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Corruption Perceptions Index, 2010
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Nepotism is favoritism granted to relatives regardless of merit.[1] The word nepotism is from the Latin word nepos, nepotis (m. "nephew"), from which modern Romanian nepot and Italian nipote, "nephew" or "grandchild" are also descended.


Types of nepotism


Nepotism gained its name after the church practice in the Middle Ages, when some Catholic popes and bishops, who had taken vows of chastity, and therefore usually had no children of their own, gave their nephews such positions of preference as were often accorded by fathers to son.[2]

Several popes elevated nephews and other relatives to the cardinalate. Often, such appointments were a means of continuing a papal "dynasty."

For instance, Pope Callixtus III, head of the Borgia family, made two of his nephews cardinals; one of them, Rodrigo, later used his position as a cardinal as a stepping stone to the papacy, becoming Pope Alexander VI.[3] Alexander then elevated Alessandro Farnese, his mistress's brother, to cardinal; Farnese would later go on to become Pope Paul III.[4]

Paul also engaged in nepotism, appointing, for instance, two nephews, aged 14 and 16, as cardinals. The practice was finally ended when Pope Innocent XII issued the bull Romanum decet Pontificem, in 1692.[2] The papal bull prohibited popes in all times from bestowing estates, offices, or revenues on any relative, with the exception that one qualified relative (at most) could be made a cardinal.

Coincidentally, the Church of the East from the 16th to the 19th centuries made the Patriarch a hereditary title, being passed down from Patriarch-uncle to nephew; however, this move was initiated in the face of Timur's destruction of Nestorian Monasteries throughout Asia (monks being the key source of priests and patriarchs for the Church), in an attempt to guarantee the existence of a patriarch. This proved to be a catalyst for the schism that exists today between Chaldean Catholics and Assyrian "Nestorians."[citation needed]


Nepotism is a common accusation in politics when the relative of a powerful figure ascends to similar power seemingly without appropriate qualifications. The British English expression "Bob's your uncle" is thought to have originated when Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, promoted his nephew, Arthur Balfour, to the esteemed post of Chief Secretary for Ireland in what was widely seen as an act of nepotism.[citation needed]

Other examples

  • Anna Bligh, who won the 2009 Queensland State election, has been accused of nepotism by giving her husband Greg Withers a position in the bureaucracy.[5]

Over the past decade, criticism has been growing over the creation of political dynasties in Belgium, in which all of the traditional political parties have been involved. This phenomenon has been explained by the fact that prominent party members control the ranking of candidates on party lists for elections and a candidate's place on a list determines whether or not he or she is elected. Another justification for the phenomenon is the importance of name recognition for collecting votes.[6]

  • Tom Dehaene, the son of former prime minister Jean-Luc Dehaene, at age 26, became a member of the provincial council for the Christian Democrats.
  • Jean-Jacques De Gucht, the son of former minister and current European Commissioner for Trade Policy Karel De Gucht, was placed at the top of the electoral list for the Flemish Liberals in the 2007 federal elections for the East Flanders region and subsequently appointed to the Senate at age 27.[7]
  • Freya Van den Bossche, the daughter of former minister Luc Van den Bossche, a member of the Flemish socialists, was, at age 28, appointed the youngest minister in Belgian history.[8]
  • Melchior Wathelet, Jr., the son of Melchior Wathelet, Sr. who was minister in several Belgian and Walloon governments and the mayor of Verviers, is currently the junior minister of budget, asylum and immigration, and family policy, and became, at age 26, the leader of the French-speaking Christian Democract fraction in the Belgian parliament.[9]
  • Bruno Tobback, the son of former minister and mayor of Leuven Louis Tobback, a member of the Flemish socialists, became the Belgian federal government's minister for the environment at 34.
  • Mathias De Clerq is the grandson of former minister Willy De Clercq.[10]
  • Alexander De Croo, the son of former speaker of the Belgian parliament Herman De Croo, ran for the leadership of his father's party Open VLD at age 33.[11]
  • Finally there is the example of Maya Detiege, the daughter of former mayor of Antwerp Leona Detiège, who herself is the daughter of the former mayor of Antwerp Frans Detiège.[6]
  • Many examples of nepotism abound among children of Canadian prime ministers.
  • Many more examples exist of nepotism on First Nations reservations, especially where hereditary chiefs exist.
  • Nepotism is widespread in Canadian business and legal practices especially among new graduates. It is not uncommon for major law elite law firms or major banks and accounting firms to hire sons and daughters of current employees, even if they have poor grades and are less qualified than other graduates.
  • In October 2009, Jean Sarkozy was poised to become EPAD's director despite lacking a diploma and professional experience.[12] To his credit, he broke rank from supporting his father's protégé in Neuilly-sur-Seine, the town for which Sarkozy served as mayor, and joined another party's ticket and was voted regional councillor of Neuilly-sur-Seine.
  • Pierre Sarkozy, first son of President Nicolas Sarkozy, asked SCPP for a financial help in September 2009 of around €10000 towards an (€80000) artistic project. Because he was not a SCPP member, the request was automatically rejected. Sarkozy then went to the Élysée which lead to an Élysée counsel contacting the SCPP, and SCPP president Marc Guez assuring the issue would soon be favorably resolved.[13][14] According to Abeille Music president and SCPP member Yves Riesel, however, this would not happen as SCPP's financial help has been restricted to members only for months.[15]
  • Elena Basescu, the 28-year-old daughter of President Traian Băsescu, was elected in 2009 to the European Parliament, despite the fact the she had no significant professional or political experience. Although an independent candidate, her candidacy was supported by the staff of the Democrat-Liberal Party (PD-L), her father's party. Elena Udrea, a key member of PD-L, "donated" the campaign headquarters and Monica Iacob Ridzi, the Minister of Sports, openly spent government money to help Elena Basescu achieve candidacy.[16]
  • Honorius Prigoana, the oldest son of Romanian mogul Silviu Prigoana, was the candidate for the deputy post in the elections for the Romanian Parliament, despite the fact the he had no significant professional or political experience. Had he won the elections, Honorius would have been the youngest deputy in parliament in Romanian history.
  • George Papandreou, the Greek prime minister, was firstly elected MP in 1981 with PASOK, the party led by his father, Andreas, and has since been included in numerous cabinets under either his father or Kostas Simitis. His grandfather, Georgios Papandreou was also a politician and had been elected Prime Minister.
  • Kostas Karamanlis, the former Prime Minister of Greece (2004–09) is the nephew of Konstantinos Karamanlis, founder of the Nea Dimokratia (New Democracy) conservative political party and elected Prime Minister numerous times in his career, as well as served in the position of president of the Democracy party.
  • Dora Bakoyanni, the former Foreign Minister of Greece (2004–2009) is the daughter of the former Prime Minister of Greece Constantine Mitsotakis; when she lost the leadership of the New Democracy party to Antonis Samaras and expelled from the party, she formed her own. Her brother Kyriakos Mitsotakis is a member of the Greek parliament and a Shadow Minister under Samaras.

Indian politics is plagued by nepotism. Nepotism is also dominant in Indian business and even arts.

  • The Nehru-Gandhi family has shown a strong tendency for nepotism, as manifested through dynastic politics: A recent example is the rise of Rahul Gandhi, son of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and current congressional president Sonia Gandhi and grandson of former prime minister Indira Gandhi. Jawaharlal Nehru - His daughter Indira Gandhi - Her Son Rajiv Gandhi - His Wife Sonia Gandhi - Her Son Rahul Gandhi.
  • Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia was elected to the lower house of Indian parliament by a constituency formerly represented by his father, Madhav Rao Scindia.
  • The Karunanidhi family in Tamil Nadu: M. Karunanidhi's youngest son, M. K. Stalin is deputy chief minister of Tamil Nadu and his sister, M. K. Kanimozhi represents Tamil Nadu in the upper house of Indian parliament. Karunadidhi's Elder Son MK Azhagiri is the Member of Parliament, Union Minister - who rarely speaks in Parliament.
  • The apex court of india made some strong observations about the role of the Speaker and the Chief Minister of Karnataka in the process of disqualification.

"Extraneous considerations are writ large on the face of the order of the Speaker and the same has to be set aside. The Speaker, in our view, proceeded in the matter as if he was required to meet the deadline set by the Governor, irrespective of whether, in the process, he was ignoring the constitutional norms set out in the Tenth Schedule and the Disqualification Rules, 1986, and in contravention of the basic principles that go hand in hand with the concept of a fair hearing," the court said.

  • Even the largest corporations in India are in some sense "family owned". Reliance being the most interesting example. After the founders death the company was inherited by his two sons. A succession war ensued and the matter was finally settled in court.
  • Nepotism is rampant in the Indian film industry. The Kapoor Family being the most obvious example. Young actors find it impossible to get an opportunity unless they are related to a prominent figure in the film industry, politics or privileged in some other way.
  • Indian musicians often promote their sons and daughters by giving them an opportunity to share a stage with them.

Many Irish politicians "inherit" seats in the Oireachtas (Parliament) from family members. See Families in the Oireachtas.


There is Juan Antonio Samaranch, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from 1980 to 2001: his son, Juan Antonio Samaranch Salisachs, has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 2001, while his daughter, Maria Teresa Samaranch Salisachs, has been president of the Spanish Federation of Sports on Ice since 2005.[17]

  • Many examples of nepotism abound among Son and nephew of Soares (one of the Republic's President), Loureiro's family from Gondomar, and so on.
Sri Lanka

Mahinda Rajapaksa has been accused of nepotism, appointing three brothers to run important ministries and other political positions for relatives, regardless of their merit. Rajapaksa holding the offices of he ministries of Defence finance, defence, ports and aviation, highways and road development public works. This includes his brother Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who was given the post of Defence Secetary, without holding any elections for the post. He also controls the armed forces, the police and the Coast Guard, he is in charge of immigration and emigration. Rajapaksa appointed his brothers Basil Rajapaksa as minister of Economic Development. His oldest brother Chamal Rajapaksa is also the current Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka, and has held many other posts before. Together, the brothers Rajapakse control over 70% of Sri Lanka's budget.[18][19]

Others includes his nephew, Shashindra Rajapaksa, who is the Chief minister of Uva. His cousins the Sri Lanka's ambassador to the United States, Jaliya Wickramasuriya as well as Udayanga Weeratunga, whom is the ambassador to Russia. Dozens of nephews, nieces, cousins and in-laws have also been appointed as heads of banks, boards and corporations.[19]

Trinidad and Tobago

Former Prime Minister Patrick Manning appointed his unelected wife Hazel Manning to the Cabinet for two consecutive terms, first as Minister of Education and then as Minister of Local Government.[20]


President Hugo Chávez[citation needed] and Cilia Flores, president of the Venezuela National Assembly, are also known for their hand in getting family members into government positions. Flores managed to place relatives in as many as nine permanent positions at the National Assembly: three siblings, two nephews, a cousin, the mother of that cousin, her mother-in-law, and an aunt.[21][citation needed]

United Kingdom
  • In February 2010, Sir Christopher Kelly, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said that more than 200 MPs used Parliamentary allowances to employ their own relatives in a variety of office roles. He suggested that the practice should be banned. [22]
  • The members of the House of Lords traditionally inherited their seats from their fathers. Following the enactment of the House of Lords Act 1999, all but 92 of the hereditary peers lost their right to sit in the upper chamber. As the remaining hereditary peers die, their peerages will become extinct, and will not be passed on to their descendants (although they will still inherit the title).
  • Peter Jay was appointed UK Ambassador to the United States in 1977 by his father in law James Callaghan, Prime Minister at the time.
  • North Yorkshire Police's Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell was disciplined by the IPCC in 2011, but refused to resign, after admitting that he assisted a relative through the first stages of a recruitment process [23]
  • The City of York Council is famous for its Nepotism.
United States
  • Around 30 family members or relatives of President Ulysses S. Grant prospered financially in some way from either government appointments or employment.[24]
  • Robert F. Kennedy was selected to be US Attorney General by his brother, President John F. Kennedy in 1961–63, a position Robert took and held before he was later elected senator. [25]

In entertainment

Outside of national politics, accusations of "nepotism" are made in instances of prima facie favoritism to relatives, in such cases as:

In business

  • On 13 February 2003, James Murdoch became a director of BSkyB. Later that year, he controversially became CEO of BSkyB, in which News Corporation owns a controlling minority stake. His appointment sparked accusations of nepotism, with some commentators and shareholders feeling that the job had not been opened to outsiders and that Murdoch was too young and inexperienced to run a UK news agency.
  • One-time Guardian contributor Max Gogarty has also been accused of taking advantage of family connections to achieve success disproportionate to his ability; his father Paul Gogarty is a frequent travel writer for the newspaper.[30]
  • Successful Indian steel executive O. P. Jindal's sons Prithviraj Jindal, Sajjan Jindal, Rattan Jindal, and Naveen Jindal, now run his empire.
  • Donald Trump's children, Donald Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump are Executive Vice Presidents of Development & Acquisition in their father's company.
  • Robert Kraft's son, Jonathan Kraft, is President of the New England Patriots and a COO of the Kraft Group.

In popular culture

  • In the TV series Parenthood, Sarah Braverman mentions nepotism because her brother got her a job at his company.
  • In the TV series SpongeBob SquarePants in the episode 'Culture Shock', the character Squidward states that nepotism is 'alive and well' at the talent show that Mr. Krabs, the owner of The Krusty Krab restaurant, had organised in order to make more money for the restaurant. Squidward makes this statement because the first act that appears at the talent show is Mr. Krabs' own daughter Pearl.
  • In the US version of The Office, there was an episode devoted to nepotism.
  • In the HBO TV series Entourage, the "entourage" of film star Vincent Chase receive many opportunities because of nepotism, whom received an opportunity because of his brother's early success.
  • In the video game Borderlands the Atlas corporation's private army, the Crimson Lance, is headed by the five year old Admiral Mikey. This angers General Knoxx and he describes the Crimson Lance promotion system as "Goddamn Nepotism".

Social and economic effects

Nepotism and cronyism can have short- and long-term effects on a society, depending on the extent of the take-up and social acceptability of these practices.

Areas in which, it is believed[weasel words], nepotism has negative societal effects:

  • the civil service
  • intergovernmental relations (ambassadors, civil-service attached personnel)

Also, since a politician or movie star-producer can have more than one child, there is also the related situation of a remaining, resentful, "passed over" child. India's Karunanidhi family also illustrates this examples: Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers M.K. Azhagiri, M. Karunanidhi's second son, was passed over in favor of M. K. Stalin for the deputy chief minister role. This caused a political rift between the supporters of Azhagiri and Stalin.

Nepotism often plays a part in social circles (to varying degrees), as people tend to become friends with their friends' friends more quickly than with complete strangers.

See also


  1. ^ Modern Language Association (MLA):"nepotism." The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005. 10 Aug. 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Article Nepotism". New Catholic Dictionary. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 
  3. ^ "Article Pope Alexander VI". New Catholic Dictionary. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 
  4. ^ "Article Pope Paul III". Catholic Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 
  5. ^ Des Houghton, June 28, 2008. "Anna Bligh's Labor in trouble in the polls". Couriermail. Retrieved August 17, 2009.
  6. ^ a b "Politiek België is familiezaak - Buitenland - [24 uur actueel, ook mobiel] [buitenland]".,1. Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
  7. ^“Zonder_zijn_naam_had_Jean-Jacques_De_Gucht_nooit_op_de_lijst_gestaan”_29a8f63c.aspx
  8. ^ "Can women enter the final bastion -- the all-male boardroom". Time. 2003-09-22. Retrieved 2010-05-20. [dead link]
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ Auteur: Karel Van Keymeulen. "De Standaard Online - Willy De Clercq is zijn geheugen kwijt". Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
  11. ^ "Alexander De Croo wil voorzitter Open Vld worden". Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
  12. ^ "Poll shows majority against job for Sarkozy's son". 2009-10-16. Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
  13. ^ "Népotisme et Sarkozysme, acte II (màj)".,02317+. Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
  14. ^ "Après Jean, un coup de pouce de l'Elysée pour Pierre Sarkozy". 2011-01-19. Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
  15. ^ "Après Jean, l'Elysée se met au service de Pierre Sarkozy". Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
  16. ^ "How daughter of Romanian President Basescu will be elected MEP as an independent with help from Basescu's supporting party". Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
  17. ^ "La larga carrera de un hombre polifacético", El País, 21 April 2010, . (Spanish)
  18. ^ "A war strange as fiction". The Economist. 2007-06-07. 
  19. ^ a b Nov 11, 2010 (2010-11-11). "Asia Times Online :: South Asia news, business and economy from India and Pakistan". Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
  20. ^ Trinidad and Tobago's Newsday : :
  21. ^ "Nacional y Política -" (in (Spanish)). Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
  22. ^ "Ban on MP spouse jobs 'essential'". BBC News. 17 February 2010. Retrieved 27 August 2011. 
  23. ^ "Chief constable remains despite calls for resignation". BBC News (North Yorkshire, UK). 12 May 2011. 
  24. ^ Lawrence M. Salinger (2005). Encyclopedia of white-collar & corporate crime, Volume 2. 2. pp. 374–375. 
  25. ^ Walter R. Mears and Hal Buell: The Kennedy Brothers: A Legacy in Photographs. Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc. September 2009 ISBN 1-60376-157-8
  26. ^ "Peaches Geldof bags TV reality show as magazine editor". Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
  27. ^ "EXTRA: Nepotism in the Director's Chair at". 2000-04-21. Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
  28. ^ "Nothing is true, everything is permitted - Coppola nepotism hate". Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
  29. ^ Nicolas Cage - imdb biography
  30. ^ Gogarty, Max (2008-02-14). "Max, 19, hits the road". The Guardian (London). 

Further reading

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • nepotism — NEPOTÍSM s.n. Faptul de a uza de autoritatea sau de influenţa personală în favoarea rudelor sau a prietenilor; promovare prin protecţia rudelor şi a prietenilor influenţi. – Din fr. népotisme. Trimis de LauraGellner, 10.06.2004. Sursa: DEX 98 … …   Dicționar Român

  • Nepotism — Nep o*tism (?; 277), n. [L. nepus, nepotus, nephew: cf. F. n[ e]potisme. See {Nephew}.] Undue attachment to relations; favoritism shown to members of one s family; bestowal of patronage in consideration of relationship, rather than of merit or of …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • nepotism — nep‧o‧tis‧m [ˈnepətɪzm] noun [uncountable] disapproving the practice of giving jobs to members of your family when you are in a position of power: • Some senior executives have been accused by shareholders of mismanagement and nepotism. * * *… …   Financial and business terms

  • nepotism — noun bias, corruptibility, corruption, family patronage, favor, favoritism, inequitableness, inequity, injustice, interest, leaning, partiality, partisanism, partisanship, patronage, preferential treatment, undetachment, unfairness, unjustness… …   Law dictionary

  • nepotism — (n.) favoritism shown to relatives, especially in appointment to high office, 1660s, from Fr. népotisme (1650s), from It. nepotismo, from nepote nephew, from L. nepotem (nom. nepos) grandson, nephew (see NEPHEW (Cf. nephew)). Originally, practice …   Etymology dictionary

  • nepotism — [n] favoritism bias, discrimination, inequity, one sidedness, partiality, partisanship, preference, preferential treatment; concepts 41,388,645 …   New thesaurus

  • nepotism — ► NOUN ▪ favouritism shown to relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs. DERIVATIVES nepotistic adjective. ORIGIN Italian nepotismo, from nipote nephew (with reference to privileges bestowed on the ‘nephews’ of popes, often really… …   English terms dictionary

  • nepotism — [nep′ə tiz΄əm] n. [Fr népotisme < It nepotismo < nepote, nephew < L nepos (gen. nepotis), grandson, NEPHEW: from favoritism shown to “nephews” by medieval prelates] favoritism shown to relatives, esp. in appointment to desirable… …   English World dictionary

  • nepotism — [[t]ne̱pətɪzəm[/t]] N UNCOUNT (disapproval) Nepotism is the unfair use of power in order to get jobs or other benefits for your family or friends. Many will regard his appointment as the kind of nepotism British banking ought to avoid …   English dictionary

  • nepotism — nepotic /neuh pot ik/, nepotistic, nepotistical, adj. nepotist, n. /nep euh tiz euhm/, n. patronage bestowed or favoritism shown on the basis of family relationship, as in business and politics: She was accused of nepotism when she made her… …   Universalium

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